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More than Money Newsletter - February 2016

How Many Questions Can We Answer in one Newsletter?

(Apparently – 12)

“Stock Markets are Down – Should You Be Happy?”

There are at least half a dozen situations where you might very well be happy when the stock market declines.  Do any of these apply to you?  Well, it depends . . .  We discussed these opportunities in detail our More than Money Radio show of January 30th.  Check out the podcast at

“Are Roth IRAs included in RMD calculations?”

One of the potential benefits for some taxpayers is the exclusion of Roth IRAs from the RMD mandate.  No RMD.  No income tax on withdrawals.  Nice.

“How much am I allowed to put in my 401(k)?”

In 2016, if you are under age 50 the maximum you may defer into your 401(k) is $18,000.00.  If you are age 50 or older the maximum is $24,000.00.

“What is my tax on the sale of $11,000.00 of stock?”

It depends.  If your normal tax position places you at or below the 25% bracket (max taxable income of $75,300.00 for married filing jointly) your capital gains tax is zero ($0.00).  Lots of folks find this shocking.  For many it becomes a real opportunity to unlock assets and pay no income tax.  For others, it’s a chance to gift stocks/mutual funds to loved ones with low tax brackets who can then sell them without tax.  Does this work for you?  It depends . . . check with our office for a quick evaluation.

“Are ETFs Safer than Mutual Funds?”

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are investment assets in a different package or format than mutual funds, but they are no safer (or riskier) than mutual funds.  ETFs do have some interesting characteristics (low expenses and instant tradability) that might make them more or less appropriate for certain investment portfolios.  Start with your investment objectives  -  that will give you a leg up on deciding if ETFs fit your needs.

“Can I Sell My Real Estate and Pay No Taxes?”

Yes. No.  Maybe.  It depends.

If you sell your personal residence and meet certain requirements your proceeds will be income tax free.  If you sell your investment real estate and receive the proceeds in hand you owe tax.  If you decide to exchange your investment property in a ‘like-kind exchange’ and meet all the requirements you will defer your income tax bill until a later date.  If you defer the capital gains tax on your investment properties and pass them to your heirs inside your estate – they can sell them and pay no income tax.  Great fun.  If you’re selling real estate you would be very wise to consult with an experienced tax professional before you sign the contract. 

“Should I Lend to My Son-in-Law for his Business?”

It’s not a great idea, but if you’re already intent on ‘doing the deal’ be sure you ‘lending’ him money you can afford to forget about.  Make the deal formal.  Do all the correct paperwork.  Set up a payment schedule.  You get the picture.  If it doesn’t work out – forget about the money.  Do not risk your relationship with your daughter over money.  If you want to keep things really insulated – have your financial advisor/CPA/ Attorney be your middle man on the transaction.  If someone goes haywire you can always blame one of those guys.

“What is an ILIT?”

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust. 

This is a tool to limit or eliminate estate taxes on the proceeds of a life insurance policy.  Do you have an insurance policy that you would like the beneficiaries to receive without being taxed?  Consult with your financial advisor/estate planning attorney to see if an ILIT would meet your needs.

“Use a Reverse Mortgage as our Emergency Fund?”

Actually, yes. 

A reverse mortgage can provide funds in a number of ways.  You can take a lump sum.  You can take monthly payments.  And . . . you can set it up as a line of credit and only draw on it as you need to.  Interest accrues on the funds you do borrow.  The mortgage and interest are repaid when you leave your home.  For details as well as pros and cons please consult an experienced reverse mortgage expert.  If you wish a referral please contact our office.

“What’s the Max Gift Before Taxes Hit?”

A little over $5,000,000.00.  Really.  No, really.

Lots of folks think $14,000.00 a year and that’s kind of true.  However, the truth is there are never income taxes for the person receiving the gift.  Then the only taxes to be concerned about are gift taxes and they don’t kick in until the donor (giver) has gifted a bit more than $5,000,000.00 during their lifetime.

If you are planning gifts of any amount, please consult with your financial advisor prior.

“What is Peer to Peer Lending?”

It’s a relatively new structure for connecting two people – one who wishes to borrow money with one who wishes to lend money.  The theory is – borrowing will be less expensive (lower interest rates) for the borrower.  And thereby – the lender will earn more money than they are currently receiving in the banks (or anywhere else maybe).

Some folks do this direct (grandmother to grandson for example).  Others are looking to turn a profit on the process by connecting the borrowers and the lenders.  Since this is a relatively new process there are bound to be pitfalls and shenanigans.  While lending money may seem simple, this is a securities transaction and carries some serious implications.  If this arrangement calls your name, do your homework, seek professional counsel, and be careful.

“Is it Even Possible to get a Guaranteed Retirement?” 

There are many variations on the theme of guaranteed retirement including fixed annuities, fixed index annuities, variable annuities with lifetime income riders, SPIAs, DIAs, etc., etc. 

So is it possible to guarantee your retirement income.  Sure.  Is it the right way to go?  It depends . . . of course.  Today’s guaranteed products are some of the most complex products being offered to investors today.  All of the guarantees are only as good as the ability of the insurance/annuity company’s financial ability to stand behind their guarantees.  If you are drawn to this type of guarantee please consult with a financial advisor who can provide your information and access to all of these offerings.  You will want the opportunity to compare apples to apples.  Take your time, ask tons of questions, be slow to decide.  Remember – it depends – on you.

More than Money Radio and Television

Have Breakfast with Gene every Saturday Morning at 8:06 as 

More than Money with Gene Dickison airs on AM790 WAEB. 
all with your questions live at 610-720-7900 
Two Full Hours – 8:06 through 10:00 AM.

 Who would you like to see interviewed on our radio or television show? 

What topics would you like Gene to discuss?

 Send your suggestions to

Words are Powerful Tools for American Freedom

In recent weeks we’ve lost some of music’s most creative voices.  David Bowie, Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, and Glenn Frey of The Eagles all recently passed.  While I can’t hum a tune I do love music.  Many of the most memorable events in my life come back to me when I hear the music of that time.

The Eagles brought not just great music to their fans, but also great insights.  In a world that is nearly overrun with noise we the people often wonder what is the answer to end this madness.  From their ‘Hell Freezes Over’ album released in 1994 Glenn Frey (who has lots of family living right here in Nazareth) and The Eagles offered this wisdom inside a beautiful song:

“There are so many contradictions 
In all these messages we send 
(We keep asking) 
How do I get out of here 
Where do I fit in? 
Though the world is torn and shaken 
Even if your heart is breakin' 
It's waiting for you to awaken 
And someday you will- 
Learn to be still 
Learn to be still”

I wish for you to learn to be still.

Please allow us to serve you and those you love.

Thank you,


P.S.  Take time today to pray, to meditate, to be still.

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